a single gold coffee bean among many brown ones | truly great teams trust each other

Few Teams Have the #1 Thing to Be Truly Great—Do You?

Mike Kotsis Leadership, Team Health

What is the single most critical thing your leadership team needs to be more successful? A two-year study by Google revealed that the greatest predictor of a successful team is the trust among the team’s members. Teams that trust each other are more effective, and teams that lack trust never seem to gain the Traction® you might expect them to. Even when a team is full of high-performers, a lack of trust will hold back their success.

Teams That Trust

If your organization is running on the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, you probably won’t be surprised that “rock star” team members alone aren’t enough to achieve success. You need to have the Right People in the Right Seats—team members who Get It, Want It, and have the Capacity to do the job. These people have more than mere skill—they also fit your company’s Core Values and Vision.

As your team runs on EOS®, you will build accountability together. Your Rock and To-Do completion rates will increase, and you’ll see more Issues being solved, for good. That accountability and reliability builds a certain trust. You know that you can count on John to do what he promises, and you know Sarah will honor her commitments. You trust them to do their work, and to do it well. Everyone on your team understands that others are depending on them.

Your team is seeing exciting results and making great headway, but you aren’t running on all cylinders, yet. You’re still bumping up against the ceiling, and as rewarding as your achievements have been you sense that there is another level that you aren’t yet performing at.

You don’t yet trust each other. High-performing, cohesive teams are teams that trust.

Do You Really Trust Each Other?

You may be saying, “But we do trust each other, Mike! We have accountability now, and we implicitly know that each of us will do what’s necessary to succeed.”

You trust each other, but you don’t have the right kind of trust. There are two kinds of trust, and fewer teams have the kind that gets you to the next level.

Over time, most teams learn to trust each other to do what needs to be done, or to make good on their commitments. That’s called predictive trust—it trusts that someone will do what they’re supposed to do. Predictive trust is built over time, as you work with one another. It’s an important part of building accountability on your team, and throughout your company. But if you rely only on this kind of trust, your leadership team won’t reach its true potential.

According to Patrick Lencioni, the second kind of trust is called vulnerability-based trust. Vulnerability-based trust is willing to be vulnerable and transparent. It occurs when you say, “I don’t have any answers to that problem” or, “I made a mistake.” It’s a willingness to admit your shortcomings, your failures and your faults.

This kind of trust requires you to go deeper, relationally. Whereas predictive trust places tasks and expectations in the hands of another, vulnerability-based trust places yourself in your teammates’ hands. This is the kind of trust that Google’s research is pointing to.

You can imagine why vulnerability-based trust is the X-factor for team cohesiveness and performance. When you can put your ego aside for the sake of your team and the company, when you can be that “emotionally buck-naked with one another” (as Patrick Lencioni says), it creates an entirely new dynamic on the team. People begin to trust one another inherently, on an all-new level.

You can be the Right Person in the Right Seat, but if you don’t put your ego aside and ask for trust, your company won’t get to the next level.

Become a Team That Truly Trusts

The only way for that kind of trust to develop is for the leader to go first. If your team’s leader takes that leap of faith and expresses that kind of vulnerability, it frees the rest of the team to follow suit.

If you’re the team’s leader, that can be an emotionally difficult place to be in. But your EOS Implementer™ has been there before, and he or she can walk your team through the process of creating a safe space for vulnerability-based trust.

Does your team need greater trust? I’ve been successfully helping leadership teams get to the next level since 2012—I can help yours, too. Let’s talk about what I can do for your team.